GAME 3: MIAMI 87 KNICKS 70 | MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
How it happened:
Prior to the Game 3 tilt at Madison Square Garden, interim head coach placed Landry Fields and Steve Novak in the starting lineup, replacing Iman Shumpert and Amar’e Stoudemire. Novak started at the small forward position and Anthony slid over to the power forward spot. Miami kept their starting five as Chris Bosh made a quick trip back to New York after his wife gave birth earlier in the day.
The Garden crowd was eagerly waiting for tip-off and even shouting chants during the national anthem. Throughout the early stages, the Knicks fans played a major role as the sixth man, helping the home team swing momentum in its direction.
New York jumped out to a 4-1 lead but the Heat weathered the storm and built a 19-10 lead at the four-minute mark of the first quarter. Behind a tremendous effort from the bench, the Knicks did not allow the road squad to gain a comfortable advantage. Mike Bibby, J.R. Smith, Jared Jeffries, Anthony, and Tyson Chandler scored the last seven points of the quarter while Miami failed to register a point. The Knicks successfully fought back into the game with the score tied at 19-19 to conclude the first period.
The bench continued to impress to start the second quarter with a lineup of BibBy, Landry Fields, Smith, Jeffries, and Josh Harrellson. From the 4:06 mark of the first to the eight minute mark of the second, New York outscored Miami 18-1. Yearning for a playoff win, the MSG crowd exploded during the run after Smith dished to Fields, who passed back to Smith for the fast break two-handed windmill. The Heat was dreadful offensively and stuck in a 10 minute drought while the Knicks created a 40-29 lead with 1:41 left in the first half. However, Miami managed to claw its way back on a 7-0 spurt to finish the second frame with New York clinging to a 40-36 lead.
Both teams struggled to care of the rock with a combined 11 turnovers. James was hit with his fourth foul and was sent to the bench with 7:23 remaining in the third quarter. Anthony hit a crazy bucket off the glass while wrestling the ball away from two defenders to tie the game at 51-51 after Dwyane Wade scored seven straight points. Bibby buried a 3-pointer to close the third period and New York only faced a two-point deficit heading into the final stanza.
James entered the fourth quarter on a mission, igniting the Heat’s offense and scoring the first 8 points of the period. Aside from a jaw-dropping baseline one-handed double-clutch jam from J.R. Smith, the Knicks could not match Miami’s dynamic duo down the stretch.
James and Wade combined for 34 points in the second half and Mario Chalmers hit timely shots from downtown throughout the final period to give the Heat a solid 77-62 advantage with less than six minutes on the game clock.
Anthony finished with a team-high 22 points, Chandler registered a double-double, and Smith scored 12 off the bench in the 87-70 Game 3 loss.
“they made some shots and the game got a little bit away from us late in the fourth but up until that point we followed every (defensive) assignment. We just had a tough time scoring.” -- Tyson Chandler
Anthony fought the entire night against James, double teams, and the stifling Miami defense. The forward tallied 22 points on 7-for-23 shooting from the floor and 7-of-9 at the charity stripe. In an exhausting 43 minutes, he hauled down eight boards.
For the second straight game, New York outrebounded Miami and edged the road squad 42-20 on Thursday night.
State of the Series:
The Heat own a 3-0 series lead and will have the next two days to prepare for Sunday’s Game 4, which is schedule to start at 3:30 PM at Madison Square Garden.
The Knicks and Heat will take advantage of an off day to practice in New York following an intense Game 3.